Spring Practice Notes: Scrimmage Update

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Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson poured heavy praise on his teammate Isi Sofele following the Cal football team's Saturday morning open practice.

"What can you say about Isi? Isi makes plays," DeBoskie-Johnson said. "Isi's shifty. He's small, he's powerful, he's fast. He can run on the inside, the outside. We can get him around the corner."

Shane Vereen played just one series at Memorial Stadium, putting the rest of Cal's deep and versatile backfield on display. And the smallest player on the field provided some of the day's biggest highlights.

On the first team offense's second drive, the shifty sophomore tailback weaved through would-be tacklers before scampering up the sideline for a 30-yard gain.

In addition to running out of the backfield, Sofele broke off a 70-yard punt return touchdown and made a tough catch while being blanketed by Steve Williams.

Fans got to see some more hard-nosed running by DeBoskie-Johnson and redshirt freshman Dasarte Yarnway to complement to Sofele's trademark quickness.

Both Yarnway and DeBoskie-Johnson scored during goal line situations, though Yarnway was kept out of the endzone on the practice's initial drive.

"I thought (the running backs) took a step forward, (but) there's still a lot of improvement," coach Jeff Tedford said. "I thought on the goal line, Dasarte's a big back and should be able to pound things in there. I thought he ran a little high today."

Quarterback Report

With Brock Mansion sitting out the practice due to an injured foot, Kevin Riley and Beau Sweeney took most of the snaps on Saturday.

Both quarterbacks turned in uneven performances at Memorial Stadium.

Playing against the No. 1 defense, Riley marched the first team offense down the field with long passes to Anthony Miller and Alex Lagemann.

He completed 10-of-15 passes for 110 yards, but sailed some throws and had two fumbles. One miscue came on a hand-off and the other was a bobbled snap from center.

"With the snap ... I changed the cadence at the line, because the clock was going down," Riley said. "I don't think he heard me, so when I was trying to pull it, I lifted up, and it hit my finger. In a game, I'll just call a timeout."

Sweeney finished just 5-for-14 on the day, and threw a couple of balls while past the line of scrimmage. However, he had a first down completion to Spencer Ladner for 25 yards and scrambled to find Marvin Jones for a 64-yard touchdown.

"Thought I had some good plays, but I also thought I left some plays out there that I could made," Sweeney said. "My biggest deal is to just try to make strides every day. Kevin has experience and the thing I try to do is watch him and earn from him."

Jeremy Ross estimated that he typically needs seven to 10 yards of space when fielding punts.

On Saturday, he only needed about five yards to operate before breaking off a long punt return touchdown.

"Sometimes, you got to take chances," said Ross, who also scored from 15 yards out on a reverse.

However, the senior wide receiver made a limited impact receiving on Saturday. Ross said he is dedicating this spring to becoming a more consistent pass-catcher.

"Anybody can make a great play here and then," Ross said. "I'm definitely going to work on my ball skills, positioning the ball, repetition at catching, getting my body in position ... being more explosive out of my breaks."

Quick Hits

-- Punter Bryan Anger did not have his strongest day, booting one punt out of bounds and landing most of the others between the 30 and 35 yard lines.

-- Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio's first kick-off of the controlled scrimmage was his farthest, reaching the two-yard line The junior also had a pair land near the 10, and another at the eight.

During the closing seconds of practice, he and fellow kicker Vince D'Amato alternated kicking field goals from increasing distances and varying positions on the hash marks. Tavecchio's longest of the day was from 43 yards.

-- Tedford on the offensive line's performance:

"They weren't perfect by any means today, but there's a lot of combinations that have been thrown together. Cheadle's come a long way, Donovan Edwards has played pretty much every position on the line."


Contact Ed Yevelev at [email protected]

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